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New 7 Wonders of Nature Nominees

 

 

 

New 7 Natural Wonders of the World

New Seven Wonders of Nature-One of 28 nominees. Winners will be announced in 2011.

 

Table Mountain
South Africa
New Seven Wonders of Nature
Earth's Natural Wonders in Africa
Table Mountain has its own cloud cover (the Tablecloth), forming rapidly when the wind is in the southeast and mainly responsible for the lush plateau vegetation. Five mountain reservoirs catch the rainfall brought by northwesterly winds in winter. [1]
Table Mountain slideshow
Table Mountain and the 7 sisters in Cape Town, South Africa taken from Lions Head [2]

 

 

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa, and is featured in the flag of Cape Town and other local government insignia. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park.

The main feature of Table Mountain is a level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, surrounded by steep cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town and its Table Bay harbour, and together with Signal Hill form the natural amphitheatre of the City Bowl.

The highest point on Table Mountain is towards the eastern end of the plateau and is marked by Maclear's Beacon, a stone cairn built in 1865 by Sir Thomas Maclear for trigonometrical survey. It is 1,086 metres (3,563 ft) above sea level, about 19 metres (62 ft) higher than the cable station at the western end of the plateau.

The cliffs of the main plateau are split by Platteklip Gorge ("Flat Stone Gorge"), which provides an easy and direct ascent to the summit and was the route taken by António de Saldanha on the first recorded ascent of the mountain in 1503.

The flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain's slopes into colder air, where the moisture condenses to form the so-called "table cloth" of cloud. Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking contest between the Devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks. When the table cloth is seen, it symbolizes the contest.

Table Mountain is at the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that forms the spine of the Cape Peninsula. To the south of the main plateau is a lower part of the range called the Back Table. On the Atlantic coast of the peninsula, the range is known as the Twelve Apostles. The range continues southwards to Cape Point.

Geology

Cape Peninsula and Table Mountain - Landsat Image over SRTM Elevation. North is on the left of the image, and Table Mountain is in the foreground at the northern end of the peninsula.[4]The upper part of the mountain mesa consists of Ordovician quartzitic sandstone, commonly referred to as Table Mountain Sandstone (TMS), which is highly resistant to erosion and forms characteristic steep grey crags. Below the sandstone is a layer of micaceous basal shale, which weathers quite readily and is therefore not readily visible. The basement consists of heavily folded and altered late precambrian Malmesbury shale, which has been intruded by Cape Granite. The basement rocks are not nearly as resistant to weathering as the TMS but significant outcrops of the Cape Granite are visible on the western side of Lion's Head.

Flora
The main vegetation of the mountain is the unique and rich Cape fynbos, which forms part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are found on the mountain alone. Amongst these species are many kinds of proteas. Remnant patches of indigenous forest persist in a few of the wetter ravines but not on the more exposed face above the city, where conditions are too dry and harsh for forests. The mountain has also suffered serious invasions of alien plants for well over a century, with perhaps the worst invader being the cluster pine. Considerable efforts have been made to eliminate these alien plants.


Fauna
The most common animal on the mountain is the dassie, or rock hyrax. They especially cluster around the upper cable station, near areas where tourists may discard or (illegally) supply food. There are also porcupines, mongooses, snakes and tortoises. The last lion in the area was shot circa 1802. Leopards persisted on the mountain until perhaps the 1920s but are now extinct locally. Two smaller, secretive, nocturnal carnivores, the rooikat (caracal) and the vaalboskat (also called the vaalkat or African Wild Cat) were once common on the mountain. The rooikat continues to be seen on rare occasions by mountaineers but the status of the vaalboskat is uncertain.

Himalayan tahrs, fugitive descendants of tahrs that escaped from Groote Schuur zoo in 1936, used to be common on the less accessible upper parts of the mountain. As an exotic species, they were almost eradicated through a culling programme initiated by the South African National Parks to make way for the reintroduction of indigenous klipspringers. Until recently there were also small numbers of fallow deer of European origin and sambar deer from southeast Asia. These were mainly in the Rhodes Memorial area but during the 1960s they could be found as far afield as Signal Hill. The animals may by now have been eliminated or relocated.[3]

 

A time lapse movie of Table Mountain shot over a period of one day using my webcam from my house when I lived in Cape Town.

 

czaduck
December 15, 2006

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28 finalists-7 winners will be announced in 2011

 

 

References
 
1. "Table Mountain." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
2. Flickr-Table Mountain- Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 8/1/2009
3. Wikipedia-Table Mountain- retrieved 8/1/2009 
 
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